"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." ~C.S. Lewis
One of the more effective methods of reducing stress, improving your mental and physical well-being is so obvious that it might not even jump to mind if I asked you to list the healthiest of human activities, and yet with jobs and online social networking sites, we lose sight of the importance of spending actual face-to-face time with our friendsâ€¦
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Friendship provides companionship, boosts self-esteem and yes, even has positive benefits for your mental and physical well-being.
With hectic lives, we often arenâ€™t able to develop new friendships, or maintain existing ones â€“ family, school, work, so many things can get in the way. But friendships are important for both men and women. Do you have close friends? Do you want more?
A good friend is good for your health. Having a coffee with a friend, attending the opera, chatting while your children play together, or even boating at Cape Cod are seemingly simple, but emotionally resonant ways to connect with another human being. Friendship is a condition, a situation, that speaks directly to the human need to belong, to feel a sense of purpose, and to have our own self-worth validated, and thus promotes positive mental health.
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In the wake of divorce, death, or job loss, friends help you manage where you may not have been able to alone. Yes, friends may encourage self-destructive behavior, such as binge-drinking, but they might also encourage you to take care of your health, and share in the many pleasures of life â€“ the birth of a child, getting a new job, buying a house.
Celebration in times of triumph, and comfort in times of travail: simply knowing that friends are around can prevent you from reacting unhealthily to stressful situations.
Some of us seek out vast and diverse groups of friends, while others prefer the intimacy of small and more intense friendships. Certain friends do best in conversation, while others benefit from a casual and loose socializing, whether it be playing a game of basketball, or enjoying a barbecue.
As we age, it becomes difficult for many adults, especially men, to pursue new friendships or maintain existing ones. Time is short, and friendships often must suffer in order to meet the demands of career or family.
Developing friendships is laborious, yes, and does involve some sacrifices, but the benefits far outweigh the burden.
Some ways to develop new friendships include: walking your pet and meeting people, working out at a gym or athletics club, going for lunch with a new acquaintance, accept invitations to parties or gatherings even if you feel slightly uncomfortable, volunteer with a non-profit or charitable organization, join a hobby association or arts group, or even returning to school.
Making friends isnâ€™t instant noodles, but once you put in the initial effort, it becomes easier, and you develop a rapport with your friend. It may be that youâ€™re the one supporting your friends initially, and then there will be other times when youâ€™re receiving their support and encouragement.
Letting friends know that you care for, and appreciate them will ensure the bonds remain strong, even in rough and choppy waters. Being a noble ally is just as important as having noble allies.
Some tips: donâ€™t smother your friends (respect their boundaries), be self-aware, donâ€™t turn everything into a competition, be realistic about yourself, improve yourself, avoid non-stop complaining, be positive, and most importantly, listen. Often times, it can be that our friends see aspects of our personalities that we donâ€™t see ourselves. Use that to your advantage.
A friendship can be a safe haven from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the daily hardships and trials we all experience. Compassion, regard, and love all spring from friendship, and can also make you feel needed when you offer a hand out to a friend in need. Relationships do change, and it may not be as simple as it was during school, or in our childhood, but if we are to experience all of the wonders of existence, to endure, to flourish, and to nurture others, we must invest in friends and allow them to invest in us.